June 18, 2011

Goofy moments in GREEN LANTERN #79

Here's a comic book from September 1970 that was impressive at the time and still looks pretty good compared to today's comics:

Green Lantern #79Green Lantern and Green Arrow get involved in a dispute over logging rights on Native American land. While GL searches for documentation for the Indians' claim, GA tries to inspire them with the ghost of their ancestor. Though the heroes are able to prevent all-out conflict between the loggers and the Natives, and the leaders of the loggers are arrested, only time will tell if the Indians' claim will hold up in a court of law.

One critic liked it well enough:

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #79Despite the obvious "mystery" in this issue, I like it for several reasons: 1) it does bring attention to Native American rights issues, which don't usually receive that much attention even from self-professed liberal quarters, and 2) Green Arrow and Green Lantern finally get around to duking it out, although the fight does end in something of a cop-out since the two knock each other out.

But blogger Brian Cronin nominates its climax as the second goofiest moment in the first 10 issues:

Ten Goofiest Moments in Green Lantern #76-85

2. Green Arrow’s Burden…

Perhaps the epitome of Green Arrow’s patronizing sermonizing happens in #79, when he dresses up as the ghost of a famous tribal leader to inspire the members of the tribe to stand up to the white man… You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to get more patronizing, Ollie…

Comment:  Yes, Green Arrow's approach is extremely patronizing. On the other, it's possible a group of mild-mannered Indians might be unwilling to fight a powerful businessman. And only one Indian takes the "ghost" seriously; the rest scoff at it.

What's goofy are a few things Cronin doesn't mention:

1) The story takes place in the Pacific Northwest--note the pine trees. But Green Arrow dresses up as a stereotypical Plains chief. The Indians should've shouted, "You can't be the ghost of Ulysses Star because you don't look anything like him."

2) Most of the Indians wear headbands and vests. It's a modified stereotypical look that's supposed to seem modern but Native. In reality, roughly zero Indians wear headbands in their everyday lives.

3) The Indians have dark pink skins. Which was kind of par for the course in comics back then. Asians usually had yellow-brown skin. Only blacks were rendered with reasonable accuracy.

Cover is goofiest

For a truly goofy moment in this comic, you have to go to the cover:

It's a symbolic moment that doesn't happen in the story, but it's still stupid. Green Arrow wears a full headdress from a culture located hundreds of miles away. He uses the slur "redskin." The Indians wear traditional buckskins and feathers around a campfire even though they're seated near wood-frame buildings.

Perhaps worst of all Green Lantern is tied to a totem pole with fearsome human faces. Totem poles usually feature animals that tell a story. They aren't random collections of scary little men.

With GA acting like a savage Indian chief and GL tied to a savage-looking totem pole, guess what the message is. Yes, that Indians are savages, again.

For more on Green Lantern, see Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku and The Seminal Moment in Green Lantern #76.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even as a plains outfit, the belt isn't exactly accurate, but more in line with the Comics Code. Apache Chief wears something similar, but basic brown.

Green Arrow: And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!